MANILA, Philippines – Despite the awarding of 2.1 hectares of land in Boracay Island to the Ati tribe, security concerns and violence threaten the indigenous peoples community.
It was necessary to dispatch the Philippine National Police to protect the 30 families who live on the land in Barangay Manoc-Manoc in Malac, Boracay from possible violent acts by other claimants.
In February 2013, Ati tribe member Dexter Condez was gunned down by an unidentified man. At the time, the National Commission in Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) had already awarded the Ati tribe with a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) over the land.
But that didn’t stop armed security guards of a businessman from wrecking the perimeter fence set up by the community. Three families – Banicos, Sansons, and Gelitos – are staking their claim on the land.
But July 2013, the NCIP issued a writ of execution that affirmed the right of the Ati community to their ancestral domain.
But NCIP representatives who went to Boracay to implement the writ faced opposition from other groups claiming the land.
In a letter to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, NCIP executive director Marlea Munez voiced the need to protect the Ati tribe and the NCIP officials.
“These private persons/entities have worked to make the implementation of the Writ of Execution not only difficult, but outright dangerous and risky for both the Ati and the government officials involved,” she said.
Roxas ordered the PNP to send more policemen to guard the community while the NCIP constructs the perimeter fence marking the Ati’s ancestral domain.
He also appealed to the groups making counter-claims on the land to respect the CADT given to the Ati and not resort to violence.
The land of the Ati is located in Boracay where the island’s reputation as a top tourist destination has spawned countless beach resorts and commercial establishments.
The increasing commercial development on the island is what drove the Ati from their homes in the mainland in the first place. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com